Metro: Last Light ReviewGuest_Jim_* - June 6, 2013
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Metro: Last Light - Graphics
When launched, the original Metro 2033 was one of the hardest games to run at its maximum graphics settings. Only the current generations' most powerful graphics cards are able to achieve that without relying on multi-GPU configurations. Last Light, however, is not quite so punishing to the hardware of today. In fact the two games have the same recommended video requirements for DirectX 11.
While these requirements are the same, the graphics have improved, though largely in subtle ways. Characters, for example, have had their detail improved, but the familiar environments from 2033 look mostly the same. Some of the new environments, however, stand out from the prior game, most obviously the still radioactive surface, which is now in the midst of spring with plant life growing over the ruins of Moscow.
While the lack of major improvements to graphics may be disappointing to some, I would ask them what more they would have wanted. The environments are as immersive and impressive as ever, but with some additional polish. Also, something else I feel compelled to share is the fire in this game. Fire is, in many games, an ugly element as it is little more than a low resolution mesh with an animated texture running on it. In Last Light though, it actually flows and sparks, making it look much more realistic as it consumes webs. (The webs, though, do not burn realistically but instead rely on the classic method of shrinking away. Of course I am not sure if any engine is capable of realistically applying flame physics to webs at this time.)
If you choose to compare the graphics options between the two games you will find one missing: advanced depth of field. This was a DirectX 11 feature present in 2033 that cannot be controlled in Last Light. Antialiasing has also seen a change as previously your options were Analytical Anti-Aliasing and MSAA. Now your options are to have SSAA set Off, Auto, 2x, 3x, 4x, or 0.5x. Unless someone changed acronyms on me, SSAA stands for Super-Sampling Anti-Aliasing, which is the brute force AA option, so it often does the best job at improving graphics, but generally has the largest impact on performance. As this is an in-engine option though, it has been optimized to minimize the performance hit. Typically you see this listed only with powers of two, so the 3x is curious, but the 0.5x option is just weird. I enabled it and the effect was apparent at the graphics menu and is what some of you suspect; the game was being rendered at half size and up-scaled, causing everything to become blurred. Why this option is included, I do not know.
Two other important things to note about the graphics is the field of view and one change to the graphics menu, relative to the previous game. Before every setting was shown to you, letting you know what general options such as Detail Quality: High actually mean. This information is no longer present and is missed, but this change is hardly worth more than a mention. Field of view, though, does deserve a mention because a lot of people are reacting quite negatively to it being locked in the game. Personally this does not bother me, but for those of you it does bother, the developers are aware and have already responded to the community. The reason the game launched with a locked FOV is because a greater FOV would disrupt the graphics, as some elements, such as a watch, are important to your survival. Also with more graphics in view, your computer would have to render more, decreasing your performance. However, there is an upcoming patch that will allow you to manually change it from the games configuration file. (Update 5/16/2013: The patch that adds the FOV to the config file is now live.)
For more information on the graphics you can visit NVIDIA's webpage on them: Metro: Last Light Graphics Breakdown & Performance Guide.